Australian public service recruitment ‘too Canberra targeted’ as leaders consider relocating staff

The federal bureaucracy is too dependent on Canberra for its workforce and needs to redeploy more staff outside the national capital, a government report said.

The Australian Public Service (APS) is in the midst of a recruitment crisis, exacerbated by the ACT’s extremely low unemployment rate, which is trending at 3 percent.

While only 38 percent of APS’s 160,000 employees work in the capital, it is home to the vast majority of senior executives and policy officers.

However, a group of heads of government departments say this “Canberra-centric” approach to staffing is undermining APS.

They are preparing a location strategy, parts of which are detailed in the latest State of the Service Report.

That report says basing more senior jobs in Canberra discourages a broader search for the best candidate.

This poses “a significant risk in attracting and retaining the right skills and capabilities of the workforce,” it says.

“As a result, recruitment is not targeting high-demand occupations where they are (i.e. in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland).

“This means that the APS is missing out on opportunities to find talent, especially for high-demand occupations.”

A spokesperson for the Public Service Commission told the ABC that the COVID-19 pandemic had “shown that we can work well at all levels from dispersed locations”.

“This includes performing all types of work, including policy officers.”

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